living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


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A Season of Giving

The holidays are upon us!

I’m sure that you have already been looking around, wondering what to purchase this year.  It is not even Thanksgiving yet and the stores are bursting with Christmas.  My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of friends who have already decorated their homes and with stories of kids telling their mamas what they want for Christmas.  I totally get it.  I LOVE me some Christmas, but I also have to pace myself.

You see, if we zoom past Thanksgiving we miss important lessons on gratefulness….and this seems to be what our commercial “friends” down at the mall want us to think:  “Focus on what you WANT, not on what you HAVE!”  (Let alone being grateful for those things.)

Now before you start to think I’m “The Grinch”, let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas.

I love the true meaning of the season.

I love the decorations.

I love the songs.

I love the smells.

I love the adorable Christmas plays.

I love almost everything about Christmas.

BUT, I don’t love the “GIMME” side of Christmas.

The Bible says  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35


….and so what I have tried to do in our home and hope to convey to our kids is that Christmas is a season of giving. I often bring up the fact that God gave us the best Present, Jesus,  and this is the basis for our giving.

Some of the ways we “do” Christmas:

  1.   Feeding the hungry
    1. My son figured out that the Salvation Army bell ringers collect money to feed other little boys and girls. We can not go in OR out of the stores without giving them money.
    2. We have also invited friends over that do not have a place to go during the holidays. We try to be ONE BIG family to them.
  2.   Gifting
    1. Neighbors: Every year we make or buy a gift for all of our neighbors. This is just our way of sharing God’s love with them.  Avs loves to go and help me deliver them. This is a highlight of our Christmas
    2. Teachers and Friends:  We also make little gifts and presents for our kids’ teachers as well as close friends.  We LOVE to gift.
    3. Extended Family:  This year “A” and “T” took their own money from their piggy banks and went to the dollar store and bought each of their cousins a gift.  We gave them a few tips, but mostly the gifts were their own ideas.  This was a sacrifice on their part but they LOVED it. Then when we got home, they helped me wrap those gifts.  “A” wrote the names and “T” put a bow on each package.
    4. Close Family:  We take the kids out and let them buy a nicer gift for each other as well as their parents.  We help them with the selections and use some of our money so they can do this. They love being a part of the gifting process.
  3.   Christmas Day
    1. On Christmas Day, we begin the day by reading the Christmas story. Then we let the kids GIVE their gifts.  We make a big deal out of this and they get a lot of enjoyment from it.  Presents are opened up one person at a time.  This helps us all to fully enjoy the gift-giving process and is much more meaningful.  This is all our kids have known and they love it.

My children know the story of baby Jesus and they are starting to realize what a sacrifice He made.  We are trying to teach them that it’s not about being good and getting BUT about sacrifice, gratitude and giving.

It is sooooo much fun to give!!!!   Let’s pass this on to our children.

How much fun would it be this Christmas if your child’s BIGGEST smile came from giving someone else a present RATHER than getting a toy that he will only use for a short time! – Rejoicing in the Present

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My Calling

I started this post months ago but just never could pull together my heart on this issue.

Then, it all finally came together, but in a really different way.

My daughter woke up early Sunday morning vomiting; because I couldn’t sleep and she wanted to be held, I decided, while I held her, to read a book, GLOBAL SOCCER MOM, which I will discuss in another blog. As I read about this soccer mom who was fighting AIDS, the desire to do “something more” stirred in me again.

Ironically before I went to sleep the night before, I had read the article When You Want To Do Great Things for God and He Keeps Calling You to Be a Mom.

So, with both of these thoughts clashing in my brain, I simply let my memories and thoughts take over.

I thought about the sweet chubby little princess in my arms who was battling a fever and just needed her mommy.

…but then I remembered my months in Africa as a single missionary.

I thought of my sweet son who was learning and growing in Kindergarten.

…but then I remembered my desires to be “Run Ma Run,” William Carey or a Katie Davis, (a superhero for the cause of Christ.)

Finally, I thought of Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles Wesley and John Wesley. …and I let my mind rest.

She taught her children.

She helped provide for them.

She cared for them.

She fought for them.

She was an intentional mom.She was just a mom, …but she was JUST the mother of some amazing men.

You see, God called her to something great. -> It was motherhood.

Moms, I know, I know…it looks like another load of laundry. It looks like another meal. It looks like another child’s book, read for the tenth time.

…but Mommy, it is more…

Proverbs 31 says “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens…. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Oh, my dear moms, it is so much more. Motherhood is a HUGE calling. These kiddos are our next generation. You may be raising a John Wesley, a Katie Davis, a Hudson Taylor or a Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You never know.

So, instead of ministering at church and reaching into other people’s lives, T & I sat and cuddled. We watched her favorite songs on YouTube like Jesus Loves Me and we sang. We read a whole basket of books and we worshiped Jesus together.

It was beautiful!

It was and is my highest calling. I love ministry. I enjoy working but my children are God’s assignment to me. If they are not getting the care they need, then I need to step down from my other positions.

Because THIS, my dear friends, is my calling. – Rejoicing in the Present


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Thankgiving

I asked a panel of amazing moms to answer the following questions about their observance of Thanksgiving.  I hope this is a blessing to you and gives you some ideas and encouragement.

Favorite Thanksgiving Memory.

  • My favorite Thanksgiving memory is waking up to the smell of my mom’s pumpkin bread. When I bake pumpkin bread, and the smell carries through the house, I am instantly back at home with my parents and sisters!
  • Big group get-togethers with my aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents.
  • My favorite memory was our dinner time growing up. Due to our large family, we would have a long table full of food and family. It was a always a fun family day with great food and board games. I loved it

Who do you spend Thanksgiving with?

  • It depends on where we are living. If we are home for the holidays, we alternate between my family and his. If we are on the road, we invite friends/neighbors who are not going home for the holidays to share in our Thanksgiving meal.
  • We spend it with my husband’s side of the family.
  • We have an open-house policy, so any of our friends, family and church family that do not have a place to go, come to our house. Everyone brings a dish so that makes it easy.

What do you normally cook/eat?

  • We normally eat turkey and ham or cornish hens, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, Mac and cheese, corn (corn casserole, hot corn, corn salad, or just corn), rolls, pumpkin bread, fruit salad, pies (pumpkin, chocolate, pecan), and homemade candy!
  • We go to DoubleTree Suites for their Thanksgiving buffet J When I was pregnant with baby #3 I just couldn’t handle home-school, kids and hosting it at our house. This has become our new tradition.

  • We normally have ham and turkey with a variety of different sides like green bean casserole, corn, rolls and so on.

Do you have any favorite recipes that you can share?

  • This is a new recipe…that will become tradition in our home this year. It is a spin off from our pumpkin bread. My 10 year old created it…and named it pumpkin spice cake!

How is your family intentional about making the holiday about Thanksgiving to God?

  • Daily reminders, Bible verses related to praising God and giving thanks, or devotionals related to thankfulness. We also pray around the table prior to our thanksgiving meal. We take turns expressing our thankfulness to God for his many blessings! One year we created a turkey, and on the back of each feather was a bible verse about thankfulness. It was a fun way to count down to Thanksgiving, while discussing the Word of God with our children.
  • One thing I do is read a book I have on Kindle every year in November called 365 DAYS OF THANKING GOD Each day’s passage is very, very short, so I can do so easily.
  • We made a tree this year and the kids put up a new leaf every day with something they were thankful for.
  • We read several Christian books to the kids about Thanksgiving during the month of November. SQUANTO AND THE MIRACLE OF THANSKGIVING, PILGRIM BOY (A Beka Press), BEARENSTAIN BEARS GIVE THANKS, and THANKSGIVING: A TIME TO REMEMBER, by Barbara Rainey.

Do you have any traditions that you do?

  • We create our Thanksgiving meal together! It is fun to have the entire family involved in preparing the meal. We also watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The month of November, my children also create a “thankful tree”.
  • During the 2nd winter that the Pilgrims were in the new world, legend has it that food was so scarce that everyone was forced to eat a ration of 5 kernels of corn a day. The day before Thanksgiving, during my kids’ snack time, that is all they get for their snack. We talk about how that is all the pilgrims got to eat for a WHOLE day. Yet, no one died of starvation. God sustained them. I also have the kids listen to an episode of ADVENTURES IN ODYSSEY that we have on a CD called “Stepping Stones” and it’s all about the pilgrims and how they came to the New World for freedom to worship God.

  • We watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special on DVD which also includes a show called the Mayflower Voyagers and talks about how the pilgrims were come to the new world for religious freedom.

If you could give advice to other moms/wives about Thanksgiving, what would it be?

  • Don’t stress over clean homes and a dinner to impress! Enjoy the day!
  • For many years I felt like I had to be the perfect hostess and cook a bunch of food for Thanksgiving. I felt exhausted and almost dreaded it. Now that we eat at a lovely buffet, I really enjoy it and look forward to the day. I watch the Macy’s parade on TV with the kids, we sleep in a little, and we just spend the morning as a family. It also frees me up to put the focus back on thankfulness to God because I’m not spending the week killing myself with cooking and cleaning.

  • Enjoy the day and let other’s help you. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Also enjoy your family. We have so much for which to be thankful, enjoy that instead of stressing.

How do you balance Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

  • Thanksgiving is for time with family and friends. Friday is for shopping. If we miss the deals, it’s not the end of the world!
  • The evening of Thanksgiving we go out as a family and do the evening Black Thursday sales and we get some great deals. Then on Friday we just stay home and do family stuff together.

  • I think it’s all about your attitude. If you are going from thankfulness to greed in a matter of a few hours, there is a heart issue. Enjoy your family and enjoy the sales, but don’t allow the Black Friday sales to interfere with your time with your family.

Rejoicing,

Joy